tail commands in Linux are indispensable utilities for viewing
the beginning and end of files, respectively. These commands come in handy when
you're dealing with large text files and need a quick glance at the content
without opening the entire file. In this article, we will explore the syntax,
options, and practical use-cases for both
head [OPTION]... [FILE]...
tail [OPTION]... [FILE]...
OPTION: Flags that modify the behavior of the command.
FILE: The file(s) to read. If this parameter is omitted, both commands read from standard input.
Here is a table outlining commonly used options for
|Output the first NUM lines instead of the default first 10 lines|
|Output the last NUM lines instead of the default last 10 lines|
|Output appended data as the file grows|
|Both||Never output headers giving file names|
|Both||Always output headers giving file names|
|Both||Display a help message and exit|
Line 1: This is the first line.
Line 2: This is the second line.
Line 3: This is the third line.
Line 4: This is the fourth line.
Line 5: This is the fifth line.
Line 6: This is the sixth line.
Line 7: This is the seventh line.
Line 8: This is the eighth line.
Line 9: This is the ninth line.
Line 10: This is the tenth line.
Line 11: This is the eleventh line.
Line 12: This is the twelfth line.
Line 13: This is the thirteenth line.
Line 14: This is the fourteenth line.
Line 15: This is the fifteenth line.
Line 16: This is the sixteenth line.
Line 17: This is the seventeenth line.
Line 18: This is the eighteenth line.
Line 19: This is the nineteenth line.
Line 20: This is the twentieth line.
Line 21: This is the twenty-first line.
Line 22: This is the twenty-second line.
Line 23: This is the twenty-third line.
Line 24: This is the twenty-fourth line.
Line 25: This is the twenty-fifth line.
To display the first 10 lines of a file named
Custom Line Count
To display the first 20 lines:
head -n 20 example.txt
head --lines=20 example.txt
To display the last 10 lines of a file named
Custom Line Count
To display the last 20 lines:
tail -n 20 example.txt
tail --lines=20 example.txt
To follow the changes in a file in real-time:
tail -f example.txt
Terminate with PID
To terminate the
tail -f command after a specific process ID (PID) terminates:
tail -f --pid=1234 example.txt
Combining Multiple Options
You can combine multiple options for more tailored output. For example, to display the first 20 lines of multiple files and include headers:
head -n 20 -v file1.txt file2.txt
You can use
tail together to extract specific line ranges from a
file. For example, to display lines 20 to 30 from a file:
head -n 30 example.txt | tail -n 11
Piping with Other Commands
tail work well with pipes. For example, to count the number of
files in a directory:
ls | head -n 10
tail commands are invaluable when dealing with text files on a
Linux system. They offer a variety of options for line count, real-time
following, and even conditional termination. Whether you're tailing logs or
reviewing configuration files, mastering these commands will significantly
improve your efficiency when working with text files.
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